A long-time Chester reader had an unusual experience observing osprey while vacationing this summer on Bustin's Island, a small island in Casco Bay, Maine, reached by boat from South Freeport.
His letter read in part: “The cottage we rent is very close to the water with a wonderful view which includes a large tidal pool. The osprey were very numerous this year and had nests on Bustin's Island and another small island nearby. One day, I looked up and saw an osprey carrying a dead bird. Knowing they feed on fish I was mystified. It landed by the tidal pool, flew across to the other side and sort of picked at the bird. It took off once again and this time dropped the bird that was black and could have been a crow. I walked out to see if I could find it, but it had evidently landed in the water and sank. I talked with others on the island including our 'resident naturalist,' who was as mystified as I was. One thing that might have happened is that it was a crow that might have been near the osprey's nest and, if there were young, was protecting them. Of course we will never really know as it got rid of the evidence.
“Another thing that happened was two poor sparrows were stuck with a baby Cowbird in their nest — an all too common occurrence.”
I believe our Chester reader came to a logical conclusion with respect to the mysterious osprey's catch. In any case, this is the first time I ever heard of an osprey carrying or “pecking” at a dead bird.